How to make Water Kefir, a healthy probiotic drink!
Have you ever heard of water kefir? Water Kefir is a healthy, probiotic drink made from water kefir grains (they are not actually grains at all!) consisting of bacteria and yeast. I make my water kefir from sugar water, and the kefir grains eat the sugar and after a period of 24-48 hours, a fizzy, probiotic drink is born!
Water Kefir is a perfect substitute for soda. I stopped drinking soda many, many years ago, but my husband would still drink it on occasion. I’ve been making kefir for years, but finally, just three years ago, my husband tried the water kefir soda and realized that it’s actually really tasty! So now we both drink this every day (and my toddler likes it, too!).
What does it taste like?
I prefer my drinks to be really carbonated and not too sweet, so I let my kefir work for 48 hours before re-feeding the grains with new sugar water. The flavor is completely up to you, but my go to is a Pomegranate Juice blend (still 100% juice). The Cultures for Health website (which is where I get my grains) has lots of ideas if you want to go another route!
Overall, however,water kefir has more of a light, fruity beer flavor (but not full on beer taste). It’s not like kombucha, which is fermented, and can get a vinegar taste.
If you want a sweeter drink then you can refeed the grains after 24 hours, but it’s more work for you and the sugar content of your drink will be higher.
Where do you get the water kefir grains?
I buy mine from Cultures for Health. You can order the grains here. I also recommend getting the plastic strainer (there’s a link on the page for the grains). The grains arrive dehydrated, so your first batch or two will just be spent rehydrating the grains before you can get started making your drink!
I’ve been making this for many years and have only had to replace my grains once, and that was after my pregnancy (when my grains were a little neglected). So these grains will last a long, long time.
How to get started:
Here are the supplies I use:
- 1 quart mason jar
- coffee filter and rubber band
- plastic strainer
- wooden spoon
- water that has been boiled and cooled
- 1/4 cup organic sugar (I use turbinado but other sugars will work)
- 1/2 cup organic 100% juice, divided into two 1/4 cups
- 1/2 cup boiled water, still hot
The nitty gritty details!
Provided you already have a batch of kefir, the first step is to separate the grains from the kefir. I use my wooden spoon (never let the kefir grains touch metal!) to stir the grains, then pour them into the plastic strainer and let the drink fall into a pitcher below.
The next step is to boil the 1/2 cup of water, and combine that with your 1/4 cup of sugar to dissolve the sugar. I do this in my 1 quart mason jar. I allow it to cool a little, then fill the mason jar with cooled, previously boiled water. (If you use distilled water you will need to re-mineralize your water. You can buy mineral drops from Cultures for Health.)
Once the water temperature has dropped below 85 degrees F, add your grains back into the new sugar water. Put your coffee filter over the mason jar and put a rubber band around it to keep fruit flies and other nasties out!
(Sidebar: I use this Handy Dandy Infrared Thermometer Gun check the temperature. It’s cheap and fun to use! )
Place your water kefir in a dark cabinet (don’t place it anywhere too hot!) for 24-48 hours.
For the finished kefir, I use two old GT Kombucha bottles and pour 1/4 cup of juice in each bottle. Then I pour the finished water kefir into the two bottles, and cap tightly. I place those two bottles in my cabinet (you can leave them on the counter if you desire) for 4-5 days. I find that four days (5 in winter) is sufficient for good carbonation.
You might have to play around to find your desired carbonation time, but once the kefir is ready place it on the fridge until you are ready to drink it!
A note on exploding drinks: If you use a bottle that is extremely air tight then your kefir might explode (or at least shoot out upon opening the bottle). Only once have I had a bottle shatter on me (and that was a huge mess!) so now I only let it carbonate for about 4 days instead of 6.
A few important notes:
Never let the water kefir grains touch metal! Always use plastic, glass or wooden utensils.
Never put the kefir grains in water exceeding 85 degrees F. Anything warmer than that will harm your kefir grains.
Going on vacation? You can put the grains (in a fresh batch of sugar water) in your refrigerator for up to two weeks. If I’m only leaving for one week I just use the coffee filter as the lid. If I’m going to be gone for two weeks I put a metal mason jar lid over the coffee filter and seal it tight. Always put it in the back of the fridge, where it’s coldest.
Likewise, if you just need to take a break you can store them in the refrigerator this way, but just make sure to refeed your grains every couple of weeks.
The warmer the ambient temperature, the faster your grains will eat the sugar, so just be aware of that and don’t be surprised if you need to feed your kefir a little more often in the summer.
How to enjoy your water kefir:
I find water kefir tastes great by itself, but it’s especially delicious if you mix in some kombucha and a squeeze of lime. The kefir and kombucha are a nice pair! (GT Trilogy flavor is my favorite.)
This drink is especially refreshing after a workout or on a hot day.
I think you’re going to love it as much as I do. If have questions, drop them in the comments below! If you are already making kefir, let me know how you flavor it!